Classic deli flavours inspire this robust winter salad.
Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer
Preparation time: 45 minutes
3/4 cup preservative-free white vinegar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup, divided
3 teaspoons salt, divided
2 whole black peppercorns plus grated black pepper to taste
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 small organic red onion, peeled and sliced into rings
2 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted in a dry skillet and crushed lightly with a mortal and pestle
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 to 4 tablespoons organic cider vinegar
4 cups 1/2-inch cubed organic pumpernickel bread
3/4 cup grated imported Gruyère cheese
1 8-ounce bunch organic Tuscan (dinosaur)kale, washed, stems removed and thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place white vinegar, water, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 teaspoons salt, whole peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf, and chili flakes in a small saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Add sliced onions, submerging them in the pickling liquid, and bring back to a simmer before setting heat to medium low. After five minutes remove sliced onion from pickling liquid and allow both the sliced onions and liquid to cool before pouring pickling liquid back over onions. Keep at room temperature.
2. Whisk together toasted, crushed caraway seeds, 1/3 cup of olive oil, 3 tablespoons cider vinegar, remaining maple syrup, and salt. Taste adding more vinegar, salt, or pepper to taste.
3. In the bowl in which you will serve salad, toss pumpernickel cubes in remaining olive oil, put on rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in oven until crisp, 7 to 10 minutes, shaking pan once halfway through. Turn off oven, consolidate the croutons to the center of the sheet so they are touching each other, sprinkle croutons with grated cheese, and return to oven to melt cheese.
4. Meanwhile in the reserved salad bowl, toss the kale and ¾ cup of the pickled onions (reserve extra onions for another use) in the vinaigrette. Fold in half the cheesy croutons and sprinkle the remaining half on top of salad.